ST PETERSBURG (REUTERS) – The relaid pitch at the St Petersburg stadium was criticised again on Saturday (June 24), this time by Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo and coach Fernando Santos after their 4-0 win over New Zealand in the Confederations Cup.
The 68,000-seat stadium, the home of Russian football powerhouse Zenit, will be a flagship venue at the 2018 World Cup. It will also host the final of the current tournament next Sunday.
The pitch had to be hastily relaid after severe criticism from football officials when it cut up badly during the inaugural match there in April.
It appeared to survive the previous Confederations Cup games between Russia and New Zealand and Cameroon and Australia, but Ronaldo reopened the wounds on Saturday, complaining that the grass was too long.
“It was a difficult pitch where the grass was somewhat too long and it was almost impossible to play better than we did,” he told Portuguese media after picking up his third successive man-of-the-match award.
Coach Fernando Santos said the teams were prevented from training on it the day before the game.
“It’s an excellent stadium but it’s a shame the pitch has problems,” he told reporters.
“Fifa know about this and I hope that in a week’s time it will be better.
“I hope they can get the pitch in better condition because it’s always important for the quality of the match, especially where you have teams which are technically strong and fast.”